Each day, parents across our country entrust their children to an affiliate of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. The clubs promise a safe environment for after-school care for our children. Nationwide, the Boys and Girls Clubs reported total revenue of just over $141 million.
When a parent interviews a potential after-school facility, they are given a dog and pony show. They are shown the staff, the facilities, and maybe get to see the children at play. Based on this marketing pitch, the parents can rightfully expect that their children will be supervised by these trained employees. But that may not be the case. In fact, it is a shower of lies
The Boys and Girls Clubs advertise a program called “junior staff,” stating that:
Junior Staff assists Club members ages 13 to 18 in exploring a career in youth or human services, particularly Boys & Girls Club work. Young people prepare for future roles as human services professionals by participating in career development activities, discovering the importance of community service, building customer service skills and completing a Club apprenticeship. The program develops Club members’ interpersonal skills, work ethic and sense of community responsibility.
But the phrase “prepare for future roles as human services professionals by participating in career development activities,” actually means that the Boys and Girls Club will substitute barely-trained “Junior Staff” teenagers as supervisors for younger children. The results can be disastrous when the Junior Staff volunteers turn out to be wolves in sheep’s clothing.
History of Abuse by Junior Staff
Just last month, a third lawsuit was filed against the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich (located in Greenwich, Connecticut), concerning ongoing sexual abuse of children by an older child. The abuser was a member of the “Keystone Club,” a junior-staff group whose members were “often placed in supervisory roles over the younger Boys Club members,” according to the lawsuit. The abuser started when he was only 10 years old, sexually molesting children aged five and six, and his abuse continued for many years. The child victims suffered “extensive permanent emotional and psychological injuries arising directly from the physical injury and invasion,” the lawsuit says.
Another plaintiff, “John Roe,” was molested, fondled and groped when he was around 6. At a later age, 11, he was subjected to oral sex and other forms of abuse, according to the lawsuit. Plaintiff “John Smith” was approximately 9 or 10 years when he allegedly was groped by the counselor, and later subjected to oral sex, the suit maintains. Because of their abuse, the child victims all “battled with drug and alcohol abuse,” and those troubles “are directly related to ... sexual abuse.”
In Portland, Oregon, the Boys and Girls Club of Portland: Metropolitan Are was sued when a 13-year-old junior staff member—known as a "civic leader" within the Club—sexually abused one 10-year-old girl and several other children in an after-school program. The abuse was capturted on video during the Boys and Girls Club’s after-school program at a local elementary school. According to the lawsuit, the Boys and Girls Club was aware that other teen volunteers had abused young children but failed to stop the abuse.
More Junior Staff = Less Paid Staff
Junior Staff are unpaid volunteers, and more Junior Staff members in a club means less need for paid employees. By cutting corners, the Boys and Girls Club has more money to pay its staff and executives. In 2017 alone, the Boys and Girls Club paid its employees more than $58 million.
Is this Legal? Maybe, Maybe Not.
In Texas, our Texas Administrative Code contemplates the use of older teenagers to supervise younger children, but that use is tightly controlled. The older teen must be at least 16 years old, must never be left “alone with sole responsibility for or in charge of an individual child, a group of children, or the operation,” and the teen must work “in the same room with and is supervised by a caregiver qualified” under Texas law.
In both the Connecticut and Oregon abuse cases, the children would have been safe if the Boys and Girls Clubs had followed the rules. The children would have been safe if the Boys and Girls Clubs had honored their promise to the parents—parents who dreamed of a safe and nurturing environment for the children but paid a high price for that dream.
Was Your Child Injured or Assaulted at BGCA?
If you suspect that your child was inadequately supervised or inappropriately treated at BGCA or daycare, contact our child abuse lawyers at Samples Ames, PLLC. We offer 100% free initial consultations and we would be happy to discuss your situation with you.